Friday, January 23, 2015

Tales from enameling class: Pink and black heart and polka dot enamel dangle earrings

The winter/spring session for my enameling class started last week. I'm thrilled to be back, though I was disappointed to learn that a few of the "regulars" have moved on to other things. The good news is, we have a couple of newcomers who are really nice. One is a travel agent and the other is a travel writer. Given my love of traveling, we have a lot to talk about.

It always takes me a while to get back into the rhythm of the class and this semester is no exception. I'm already a klutz, but this past week, I took my clumsiness to new levels. First, I tried to drill a tiny copper square... only my finger kept getting in the way so I let go and the piece flew off the table. Luckily, no one was hurt! However, I accidentally burned myself when my thumb grazed a flaming hot trivet, fresh out of the kiln. Ouch! Again, I was fortunate in that no major damage was done.

By far, my biggest mistake came when I attempted to make a pair of earrings. I had some leftover small rectangular pieces and painted them with stripes of green, yellow, pink and light blue. They looked really cute; the other women in the class called them "candy earrings" because of the bright pastel colors. I was almost finished with my project, but put one earring down on the wrong side of the trivet... and it ended up fusing to the metal. Stupid, stupid, me! I had to pry off the earring with pliers and in the process, snapped it in half. Honestly, I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I guess we all have bad days, right?

On the positive side, I now know a color combination which looks really good and I plan to make another piece using those pastel stripes. Plus, I DID manage to successfully complete a pair of pink and black heart and polka dot enamel earrings:

I'd forgotten I had a pair of copper squares and in my bag and was happy to find them. As I said to my teacher, it's like discovering buried treasure! Since Valentine's Day is on the horizon, I decided to go with a simple heart theme. I applied a layer of rose pink enamel over raspberry to get that bright pink hue and then painted a black heart on top. I then used a thin piece of wire to create that sgaffito design of swirls and scrolls. The heart's edges are a little jagged and I left it slightly underfired so it has a "stamped" appearance.

I initially planned to have a plain pink counter side, but decided it would be fun to add the polka dot design. I think it gives the earrings even more of a whimsical touch.

Now that I've made these enamel earrings, I feel like I'm back in the groove! Check out the rest of my handmade enamel and wire wrapped jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Copper wire wrapped marble pendant... and a special jewelry model!!!

Growing up, I went to one of the largest high schools in the country. My GRADUATING class had over 1300 kids and our school was separated into two campuses: Sachem South housed 9th and 10th grades, while Sachem North was home to the juniors and seniors.

Because there were so many students, it was difficult to get to know many very well. I had my group of friends and was then acquainted with, maybe, the 150 other kids or so, who were in my classes. You'd think that with so many people around, it would be easy to be a part of a big group, but the large number of kids actually made me feel rather isolated.

Thanks to Facebook, though, I've reconnected with many of those former acquaintances ... who've become actual friends! I've joked that I now have more high school friends than I did when I was in high school, but it's true! It's funny how things sometimes turn out.

Many of these old/new friends have been extremely supportive of my jewelry and writing ventures. Several have purchased pieces from me and have read my novel. I appreciate any support, but to get it from people who (barely) "knew me when" means so much. I never felt as if I were part of a community in our huge high school, but I do feel some of that now.

One of these friends is Andrea, who played flute with me in band. She purchased my copper wire wrapped mahogany marble necklace and was kind enough to model it for me:

I know she truly appreciates my work because her young daughter, Z, is an artist. Z makes amazing clay figurines and I can seriously see her designing creatures for a program that uses claymation. Since Andrea sees the work that her daughter puts into her art, she has an idea of what it takes for me to make my jewelry.

So, thank you, Andrea, for showing off my necklace. You look great!!!

Check out the rest of my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Silver wire wrapped Rhodonite earrings with Swarovski crystals

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing holiday. Mine was pretty busy with jewelry and book-related stuff (not to mention holiday parties!), but things have settled down as they usually do at the start of the new year.

Happily, my enameling class kicks off the winter/spring session tomorrow; meanwhile, I've had time to make several new jewellery pieces.

A woman recently purchased my silver wire wrapped pink oval necklace with pearls and asked if I had any matching earrings. I'd just happened to buy a string of small, pink, oval Rhodonite stones, so I came up with this pair of earrings to go with the pendant:

Though it's difficult to tell from my photo, the stones are quite small; maybe 3/4 of an inch across at the widest point. I tried making them with pearls to perfectly match the necklace, but the crystal pearls I have were just too big for the design on this size stone. The wire kept buckling and the pearls wouldn't lay right.

After a few attempts, I moved on to using Swarovski crystal bicones, which are much smaller than the pearls. I tried to make the design with two crystals, but again, they didn't fit right. Finally, I went with only one crystal, but enlarged the spiral... and voila! I came up with a design that works!

I'm not a huge fan of pink, but I like the rose color of these Rhodonite stones. The pink isn't too bright and the dusty shade gives the stones a vintage look, especially with the oval shape. When I see them, I think of cameo jewelry, which is why I get a vintage feel from these pieces.

I was surprised when I discovered I'd sold all of my pink stone pieces. When I went to purchase a new batch of beads (yes, these are technically beads, even though they're so large), I couldn't find the stones I'd originally bought -- probably about two years ago or so. Thankfully, I came across these large Rhodonite beads at Fire Mountain Gems.

I haven't used pink that often in my work -- but these pretty stones have made me rethink my color scheme. Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations. And check out LOVE NOTES, the anthology which features my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.